You know, I called this out in no uncertain terms on August 3rd and every day since then, and I was talking about it long before then, as well. Racism in America is endemic. It is foundational.
We can mark the creation of this country not at the Fourth of July 1776, but August 20th, 1619, when the first kidnapped African was brought to this country against his will, and built the greatness and the success and the wealth that neither he nor his descendants would be able to fully participate in and enjoy.
We have to answer this challenge, and it is found in our education system, where in Texas, a 5-year-old child in kindergarten is five times as likely to be disciplined or suspended or expelled based on the color of their skin.
In our health care system, where there's a maternal mortality crisis, three times as deadly for women of color, or the fact that there's ten times the wealth in white America than there is in black America.
I'm going to follow Sheila Jackson Lee's lead and sign a reparations bill that will allow us to address this at its foundation. but we will also call out the fact that we have a white supremacist in the white house and he poses a mortal threat to people of color all across this country.
Later, O’Rourke responded to another difficult topic: gun control. Moderator David Muir asked O’Rourke about his comments after the mass shooting in El Paso where the former congressman suggested buying back or taking back people’s AR-15s and AK-47s. O’Rourke drew huge applause with “Hell yes!” and talked about the teenager who died waiting on an ambulance in Odessa because so many people were shot in such a short amount of time there weren’t enough ambulances for the victims.
Watch his full response, which drew loud cheers from the audience (full transcript below):
Moderator: Can I tell you what you could do in 100 days? I'm going to work down the row here, I want to come to Congressman O'Rourke, because I know this is personal to you. El Paso is your hometown. Some of the stage have suggested a voluntary buy-back for guns in this country. You have said, “Americans who own AR-15s and AK-47s will have to sell them to the government, all of them.” You know that critics call this confiscation. Are you proposing taking away their guns and how would this work?
Beto O’Rourke: I am, if it's a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield. If the high impact, high velocity round, when it hits your body, shreds everything inside of your body because it was designed to do that so you would bleed to death on a battlefield and not be able to get up and kill one of our soldiers.
When we see that being used against children and in Odessa. I met the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was shot by an AR-15 and that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by that AR-15 in Odessa and Midland, there weren't enough ambulances to get to them in time. Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47! We're not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore.
Moderator: Congressman, thank you.
Beto O’Rourke: And, i want to say this -- I'm listening to the people of this country, the day after i proposed doing that, i went to a gun show in Conway, Arkansas. To meet with those who were selling AR-15s and those who were buying those weapons and you might be surprised, there was some common ground there. Folks who said, I would give that up, cut it to pieces, i don't need this weapon to hunt, to defend myself. It is a weapon of war, so, let's do the right thing, but let's bring everyone in America into the conversation. Republicans, Democrats, gun owners and non-gun owners alike.
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